May 18, 2016 at 11:27 am (Publications)
Tags: altered states of consciousness, human prehistory, symbolic cognition
Based on critical responses to my ritualized mind alteration hypothesis of the origins of symbolic cognition in early human evolution, I was led to consider the possible availability of psychoactive substances in African and European prehistory. This led to a fruitful collaboration with Guzmán and Guzmán-Dávalos, who are experts on the genus Psilocybe. The result of our work has just been released in Economic Botany (click on title below for a preprint PDF).
On the origin of the genus Psilocybe and its potential ritual use in ancient Africa and Europe
Tom Froese, Gastón Guzmán, and Laura Guzmán-Dávalos
The role of altered states of consciousness in the production of geometric and figurative art by prehistoric cultures in Africa and Europe has been hotly debated. Helvenston and Bahn have tried to refute the most famous hypothesis, Lewis-Williams’ neuropsychological model, by claiming that appropriate visual hallucinations required the ingestion of LSD, psilocybin, or mescaline, while arguing that none of these compounds were available to the cultures in question. We present here mycological arguments that tell another story. A prehistoric worldwide distribution of the mushroom genus Psilocybe, and therefore of psilocybin, is supported by the existence of endemic species in America, Africa, and Europe, the disjunct distribution of sister species, and the possibility of long-distance spore dispersal. It is more difficult to point to instances of actual prehistoric ritual use in Africa and Europe, but there are a growing number of suggestive findings.
Selva Pascuala mural, Spain
March 21, 2016 at 11:34 am (Presentations, Visits)
Tags: altered states of consciousness, enaction, language, sensorimotor approach
I have been invited as a keynote speaker to the First International Conference on Language and Enaction, which will take place June 1-3 in Clermont-Ferrand, France.
The title and abstract of my talk are as follows:
From lower to higher, from self to other: Approaching the phenomenon of language from the bottom up
The enactive approach to cognitive science is currently faced by the challenge of overcoming the cognitive gap between its theories of the basic organismic mind and specifically human capacities centered on symbolic cognition. At the same time there appears to be a tension between its self-related concepts, such as autopoiesis and adaptivity, and its other-related concepts, such as participatory sense-making and languaging. I argue that these tensions can be resolved in a complementary fashion by clarifying that enactive theory does not adhere to an internalist epistemology, which can be most clearly seen in terms of its rejection of methodological individualism. Once our thinking is freed from that isolating framework it becomes evident that the enactive approach has the potential to become a fruitful paradigm for linguistics. I finish by considering its implications for language evolution, in particular regarding claims of innateness based on the assumption of the poverty of the stimulus as well as gesture-first theories.
To kick off this trip to Europe I will also give two seminars:
On May 30 I will talk about “Ritualized mind alteration and the origins of the symbolic mind: Recent insights from cognitive science” at the Collegium Helveticum in Zurich.
And on May 31 I will give a talk with the title “Can we extend the sensorimotor approach to social perception?” at Kevin O’Regan’s FEEL project lab in Paris.
March 15, 2016 at 12:11 pm (Publications)
Tags: biology of cognition, constructivism, ecological psychology, enactive cognitive science, interactivity, neurophenomenology
It’s been a long time in the making, but finally it has come out: a special issue of Constructivist Foundations dedicated to a comprehensive reflection on the relationships between enaction and other alternative approaches to cognitive science! It is the biggest issue of the journal yet.
For a small donation you can get a print version of the special issue delivered to you! Please help to support this free online journal. Click the link for details: http://www.univie.ac.at/constructivism/journal/subscriptions/voluntary.html
March 8, 2016 at 12:14 pm (Events)
Tags: artificial life, enactive cognitive science, evolution of cooperation, origins of life, systems biology
In addition to helping to organize this year’s International Conference on the Synthesis and Simulation of Living Systems (ALIFE 2016), I am contributing to the organization of two associated workshops. Here are the calls for abstracts.
The Biological Foundations of Enactivism
The workshop will bring together researchers in enactive cognition, computational modeling, biology, and philosophy, to discuss the biological foundations of enactivism. Of particular interest are issues related to the maintenance of autonomous systems, and the origins of autonomous systems.
Submissions to the workshop are extended abstracts (1 or 2 pages). Contributions may be original or previously published. Accepted abstracts will be put online. Authors of accepted submissions will present their project to the workshop in a 5-10 minute talk.
Submission deadline is May 13, 2016.
Multidisciplinary Applications of Evolutionary Game Theory
Evolutionary game theory is profoundly interdisciplinary and the flow of knowledge between different fields is of crucial importance for its future development and application. The goal of the workshop is to show the state-of-the-art of the field and connect researchers with different backgrounds, from physicists and computer scientists to economists and sociologists and invite them to share ideas and learn from each other.
We invite the submission of 1- to 4-page abstracts (Alife conference format). Contributions will be evaluated on their merit for presentation. After the workshop, the most relevant contributions will be invited to provide an extended manuscript for a special issue on evolutionary game theory in the Artificial Life journal (MIT Press).
The deadline for the submission of abstracts is April 17th, 2016.
February 29, 2016 at 11:26 am (Events, Presentations)
Following on from the special issue of Ciencia dedicated to the work of Wiener, I’ve been invited to participate in the following event, which will take place March 9 at UNAM.
February 11, 2016 at 12:22 pm (Presentations, Uncategorized)
The Department of Contemporary Continental Philosophy of the Czech Academy of Sciences has invited me to give a series of seminars based on my research. The details can be found in the event poster:
This trip is supported by a travel grant of the “Programa de Intercambio Académico de la Coordinación de la Investigación Científica” of UNAM.
January 22, 2016 at 10:59 am (Publications)
Tags: autopoiesis, cognitive science, cybernetics, enactive approach, mortality, self-production
The official magazine of the Mexican Academy of Science, Ciencia, has just published a special issue on Norbert Wiener and the origins of cybernetics.
I was invited to contribute an article based on my research regarding the relationship between cybernetics and the new cognitive science.
Title and abstract are as follows:
De la cibernética a la nueva ciencia cognitiva
El cibernético mexicano Rosenblueth y sus colegas Wiener y Bigelow argumentaban que el comportamiento dirigido a metas puede ser explicado por la retroalimentación negativa. Esta propuesta revolucionaria implicaba que nuestra experiencia al actuar intencionadamente podía hacerse compatible con una visión del mundo estrictamente científica, en la cual la naturaleza física no sigue ningún propósito. Años después, Wiener fundaría la cibernética bajo el principio de autogobierno, por ejemplo, con el uso de “bucles” de retroalimentación negativa para el control de máquinas. Sin embargo, los seres vivos no sólo son autogobernantes, sino que también, a través del metabolismo, son individuos físicamente autoproductivos. Esto es de importancia para el surgimiento de una nueva ciencia cognitiva que fundamenta el sentido de la existencia en el cuerpo biológico y, por lo tanto, en la mortalidad.
January 15, 2016 at 3:58 pm (Presentations, Visits)
Thanks to the kind invitation of Prof. Shigeru Taguchi I will spend a week in Japan giving seminars at various institutions. The current schedule looks as follows:
- Monday, Feb. 1: seminar on enactivism, biology of cognition, and predictive processing to be held at the Faculty of Philosophy and Cultural Sciences, Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University
- Tuesday, Feb. 2: seminar on the study of social interaction at the Laboratory of Autonomous Systems Engineering, Graduate School of Information Science and Technology, Hokkaido University
- Wednesday, Feb. 3: seminar on consciousness, the hypothesis of direct perception, and the problem of other minds, also at the Graduate School of Letters, Hokkaido University
- Friday, Feb. 5: mini-workshop on the origins of the individual and a seminar on the implications of a movement-first approach to the origins of life and the genetic system, both to be held at the Earth-Life Science Institute of the Tokyo Institute of Technology
I am looking forward to seeing Sapporo and Tokyo again soon!